Facing the Pandemic: The Italian Experience From Health Management Experts’ Perspective
Globalization has boosted the development of new pathogens as well as their capacity to cross national borders and threaten citizens’ health. It should therefore have been no surprise that the infection caused by COVID-19 spread so quickly from the metropolitan city of Wuhan, China, to the whole world. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic represents the biggest health crisis for many countries since the postwar period. The aggressiveness of the virus quickly led many countries to bring in strict containment measures to limit the spread of the disease and particularly to reduce pressure on hospitals. Pandemics affect the health care community in different ways, but all involve a bigger flow of patients into the system, compromising the proper functioning of hospitals. Italy was the first Western country to be heavily affected by the virus. This article describes how Italian health care organizations are facing the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey administered to health management experts highlights the main problems and possible ways for health care organizations to cope with the health crisis more effectively. Results highlight that the COVID-19 pandemic had a dramatic impact on health care organizations, forcing all hospitals to modify structures and processes to guarantee an efficacious response to new patient care needs. The lack of specialized resources, appropriate coordination tools, and clear plans for emergency management were the main problems faced by hospitals. Italy’s experience could be useful to countries facing the crisis today, or those which will face it in the near future.